Simply Red goes blue

Simply Red has developed a bad case of the blues, but frontman Mick Hucknall is delighted.

Simply Red has developed a bad case of the blues, but frontman Mick Hucknall is delighted.

"I've noticed that on the last Simply Red record (2007's 'Stay') ... I could really hear a kind of change in the musical style that I seem to be wanting to go in," Hucknall said in a recent interview.

Specifically, it was the kind of late 1950s pre-Motown sounds the musician had first heard in the 1970s when, as a teenager, he picked up on the work of legendary blues singer Bobby "Blue" Bland.

The immediate result is 'Red Sings Blue', Hucknall's solo tribute to Bland being released this week on Rhino records. That, says Hucknall, is just the beginning.

As has been rumoured, Hucknall said the band will retire the name Simply Red after a tour next year. But the group will not break up - instead, it will call itself Hucknall and change musical styles to the kind of more soulful sound he says Bland inspired in him all those years ago.

"I don't feel I could do that under the name Simply Red," he said.

In the meantime, Hucknall said he hoped the tribute record would expose a larger audience to Bland's work on songs like 'Farther Up The Road', 'I Pity The Fool' and 'Poverty'.

Although he said he did not know much about Simply Red until Hucknall nervously approached him with his finished effort, Bland said his son was already a fan.

"I'm a fan now too," Bland said. "It's a great honour for him to single me out like this."

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